View Full Version : Learning experiences/close calls
09-23-2003, 01:14 PM
I am sure lots of the guys here have had close calls. Here are two of mine that I learned from. Maybe if we posted our experiences/mistakes for others to see it might prevent someone from learning the hard way. These were not the smartest decisions ive ever made and they are a bit embarrassing but i learned from them.
1. One more fish
Years ago while diving on a ledge in 100' I was slaying grouper. I was working hard and burning my Al 80 air tank quick. Looked at my gauges and had 400 psi left after stringing a grouper. There was one more right below me so i figured drop and shoot him then come up. Well I made a hurried bad shot and fought the fish wich finally pulled. Out of air i had to make an emergency ascent kicking up and sucking the bottom out of my al80.
I remember looking up and seeing my dive partner at the surface above me wishing I could get his attention and Hoping I would make it. Scary feeling not knowing if you should breath out because there might not be a next breath available.
What I learned:
a. No fish is worth your life. Someone on this board said something a while back that has stuck with me. His wife told him to remember you have enough money to buy ALL the seafood at the grocery store.
b. Dont be afraid to drop your gear if you are in trouble. I brought my gun/fish/weights/lobster bag up with me on an emergency ascent!
2. Switching tanks and not adjusting weight
Few years ago had to dive an aluminum 100 but did not adjust my weight in the bc accordingly. I usually dive LP steel 108's. I strapped the 100 and was a little bouyant when I tried to go down. Instead of doing the smart thing and getting more weight I pulled myself down the anchor rope. (DUMBASS). Come the end of the dive I was real bouyant. (al 100s get lighter) I did my ascent kicking down like mad venting the bc.
Lesson Learned: Adjust your weight, do not go down positive.
3. Not Paying attention to current on a shore dive.
Diving off The Wrightsville beach in Wilmington NC. Outgoing tide would not allow me to swim back in. spent hours on the rocks waiting for it to turn. I was very lucky that I kept hold of the rocks or I would have been swept off.
Lesson Learned: Check tide charts and pay attention to current when doing a shore dive.
09-24-2003, 10:39 AM
Thanks for sharing Charlestondivin. Scott, let's set up some ground rules for stories like these. Anyone who posts them knows they screwed up. No one should be abusive, no cussing, no name calling. Charlestondivin called himself a "DUMBASS" and he has license to b/c it's his post. No one else should name call.
We should point out the safety rules that were broken so there is a lesson learned. Charlestondivin pointed out the rules he thinks were important to his story; does anyone see anything else he could have done better?
I think that kicking hard to the surface when you run out of air is a mistake. You can't get too excited or panicky. If you were neutral on the bottom, then you will be bouyant when you ascend a couple of feet, and as you ascend the air in your lungs is expanding. The natural reaction when you run out of air is to hold your breath. Add to that a panicked ascent, and you are at high risk to embolize.
Good post Charlestondivin.
09-24-2003, 01:05 PM
I was just wondering how many people use an octopus. I didn't until a couple of years ago and this is my story.
I usually dive with a buddy and have mostly relied on buddy breathing as my alternative if my regulator failed or my gauge was inaccurate. The reason I didn't carry the extra was that it seemed almost like clockwork that the extra reg leaked or didn't function properly or was the thing stuck in the dang rocks causing me to remain stationary. Anyway, I was diving with a partner (second time ever diving with him) in about 90 fsw and I speared a grouper at the anchor with about 600 lbs of air left. Got the grouper strung with no problems when all of the sudden my buddy swims up to me and gives me a panicked out of air signal. So I gave him my reg and we began our ascent buddy breathing. The problem was that I was a little out of breath from the grouper and he was too due to no air on the last attempt at an inhale. I thought nothing about letting him have the reg for a couple of breaths. Then I became out of breath waiting and it just escalated from there. At about 40 feet I was completely exhausted of air and he was too. I made a decision to ditch everything (left it all with him). I made my "emergency" ascent and everything turned out fine. I RE-learned two very important things from that experience (for me anyway).
1. Always use an octopus.
2. Stupid part next: Purge the reg in your mouth mechanically! I later realized that I was clearing the reg with valuable air from my lungs!
These are kind of basic things, but it took me too long to realize that sometimes an extra reg isnt just for looks.
09-24-2003, 02:07 PM
About the Octopus...
I agree that it's a great idea to have one, but I hate how they get in the way all the time. I found one online that mounts to your BDC low-pressure inflator. It doesn't get in the way at all, but it's great knowing that it's there if I or a buddy need it.
09-24-2003, 02:37 PM
Sub Alert OCTO (http://s1059kxm.leisurepro.com/webapp/commerce/command/ProductDisplay?prmenbr=946&prrfnbr=79464&merchant_rn=946)
Something like this?
09-24-2003, 03:59 PM
Good subject, thanks for posting. I checked out the Sub Alert Octo that eyyeball mentioned, looks like a nice solution. I currently dive with an octo and a Dive Alert. This would make things much more compact and still provide safety.
09-24-2003, 04:33 PM
I think it's a shame that they do not teach buddy-breathing anymore and instead insist on everyone having an octopus. Yes, I agree that an octopus is a good idea, but buddy breathing is easy to learn, what's the harm?
09-24-2003, 05:16 PM
Eyyeball and Mark D.
there are other cheaper ones on ScubaPro...such as...
09-24-2003, 05:24 PM
we do still teach buddy breathing, but not the full blown version that I learned in the 12 week YMCA hell camp. Where ya had 8 guys at the bottom of the pool and one regulator.We use it at an example of what really happens when your buddy runs out of air and comes up and rips your reg out of your mouth cause its the first thing they see. I know alot of folks dive with those air2 type inflator hose/oct jobs but man in a bad situation with another person it could get a bit hairy.
09-24-2003, 05:50 PM
NAUI teaches it also.
09-24-2003, 08:24 PM
Interesting. I got my rescue cert through YMCA and they never touched on it. Probably figured it was already addressed. Either way, it was my understanding it had been dropped; it's good that it hasn't then.
09-24-2003, 09:13 PM
While diving the keys a few years back I freedove down to where my wife was scuba diving and took a few breaths off her reg while we swam around. I couldnt believe how much that compressed air expands on ascent. I knew to exhale all the way up but an incredible amount of air came out all the way to the top. That was all it took for me to realize that that is was VERY bad idea.
09-24-2003, 11:34 PM
I think that the main reason it is not taught anymore is because people are really funny having to share their primary with someone they just met in a scuba class. I still teach it, I just teach it by having them simulate without putting the reg in their mouth.
As far as the Alternate/Octo goes, think about it, If someone comes up to you, panicking and you give them your primary, do you think you are going to get it back without a fight? Probably not. Then you have 2 divers in distress.
09-25-2003, 08:02 AM
I use an octopus holder (here's a link to one) so I never have the problem of my octopus getting stuck in rocks or dragged in sand. And, it's always right where I can get at it.
Those second air's that go to your bcd inflator hose are really neat. I have several buddies that own 'em, and they love 'em. I plan on going to that when I finish my Nitrox II course and add a scrubbing tank to my set-up. At that point, my scrubbing tank will have one reg that is attached to my octopus holder.http://s1059kxm.leisurepro.com/webapp/commerce/command/ProductDisplay?prrfnbr=1605&prmenbr=946 (http://)
09-25-2003, 03:56 PM
I used to use the "scum ball" to hold my octo, a few months ago I switched to having it around my neck (with surgical tubing), now there is never any question about where it is, if my buddy needs air, he gets my primary.
09-26-2003, 02:40 PM
Well, my dad was an instructor and believe me, I spent alot of time buddy breathing and being instructed on how to do it correctly. My reason for posting was not that I was unaware or uninstructed on HOW to buddy breathe.
BTW, I don't think you can teach it! Unless you do it in depths with a REALLY good actor/actress fighting for every chance at the reg.
09-26-2003, 03:26 PM
I still think the optimal solution is the Sherwood Shadow Plus. It is a regular octo that has a little butt end out the other side that hooks to your BC inflator hose. It isn't permanantly mated to a particular BC like the Air Source octo's so you can switch BC's if you have to (or switch reg sets without reworking your BC).
09-26-2003, 11:56 PM
When using one of the all in one octo/inflators, how do you vent air form your BC and breath at the same time? I know it is unlikely but in you never know. Heck even on a regular ascent if your main fails.
09-27-2003, 01:00 PM
I dive a genises BC and it is set up to vent air three ways. The first is like normal through the the purge button.The second way is the rear dump on the back,and the other vent is just to pull down on the inflator hose itself and it will vent through a check valve at the top of the hose.
I also have the sherwood shadow plus octo and I like mine,and when we have had to share air on safety stop before I take the octo and they get my reg.
09-28-2003, 10:00 AM
When I first started diving, most all of my dives were under fifty feet with 45 minutes bottom time. After doing this for a year straight I went to Ft Pierce to 90 fsw.
I became to familiar with a certain dive profile. I got used to that long bottom time and neglected my gauges.
After twenty minutes or so I decided to reach back to check my pressure. Yep zero air. I had just huffed it pretty hard back up current and was already out of breath. There was no warning like reg squeeking (as it did for me before in shallower water) Or difficult time sucking in air. I just went from fine, to no air.
Getting a bit panicky.
I kept my weight belt on. Shot hard to the surface without exhaling, and just basicly forgetting everything that was important.
New attitude. I keep a VERY close eye on my gauges.
09-28-2003, 07:30 PM
Was out with Intowin yesterday diving 60 ft. Having fun shooting gags and gos. Checked my guage and had 800 psi left. Thought it was only 5 mins later, and grabbed my hp hose to check again and it was limp! I knew right away that was a bad sign. I began my assent immediatly and read 200 psi left. I always like to surface with 500 left. Lesson learned: when I get below 1000 psi, check guage frequently.
Next dive I surfaced with 1200 psi left!
09-28-2003, 08:45 PM
I've come close to running out once. Same old story, shooting fish, wanted to get that one more. Came up with maybe 100 psi. Not too happy about that, but all came out OK. Haven't gotten nearly that close since.
09-28-2003, 09:21 PM
Decided to do a solo swim along the Breakwater in Monterey, doing a solo dive, and thinking it was such a pleasant 'safe' dive I would forego my pony bottle; before this I had spent a lot of time spearfishing in the lake at 25 ft, so I subconsciously planned my dive like my lakefishing practises, except they don't allow spearefishing here so just a dive, having a great dive, enjoying the great viz, fighting the cold well (about 53 F), I went to 554 feet no just kidding 54 ft to push my depth limits, and started back-totally miscalculated my gas due to depth, I'm following the bottom back, man my gas is dissapearing fast, I get to 200 lbs and decide to surface, and at 34 ft I'm on zero, so I take my last breath and surface, relaxing into it, suprisingly I get to the top just in time to need a good breath, I'm checking myself to see if I suffered any side efects, seems fine, except I'm 150 yds offshore from entry point, and now the seas are getting rough, not enough to crash over you but enough to make you uncomfortable, and the area is busy with sea lions, otters, seals, ready to give a bite or a nip, decided against taking my snorkel on this 'safe' dive and paid for it, `still a fun but spooky dive:) zeN (Though I know this pales to some of the stories on SB)
09-29-2003, 09:11 PM
OK, my lesson learned is to NEVER, EVER THINK THAT YOU ARE INVINCIBLE underwater. The second that you start to get too cocky and feel that you can handle anything that is thrown at you, any situation, then you are headed for trouble.
Early on into diving - about 80 or so dives into it, I had done all kinds of recreational dives - night, wreck penetration, wreck at night, deep - over 100' etc. and nothing worried me at all. One dive in Aruba changed my thinking, permenantly. I did a wreck dive in 130' and at 126', for whatever reason, started hyperventilating. Still not sure if it was just a dark narc or bad air or CO2 (first dive in Aruba, new equipment, assume some excitement). Anyway, what preceded it was checking air with my buddy, who it turns out started out with more air than I did. He had more air, so I thought "I must be breathing too fast" and before I knew it - my body was living out the thought! Was weird, cause knew that I would pass out if I continued to breathe at that rate and intensity. Hit like a ton of bricks. Anyway, I was able to communicate with others in the group and we ascended to 80' or so and my breathing normalized. The mind does some strange things - weird how neurons work... I finished the dive out fine and did the next dive (got back on the horse, so to speak) and kept on diving...not so cocky though...
Anyway, there IS a reason why you dive with buddies, and NEVER think that something won't happen to you just because you're very comfortable, very experienced, or whatever. Now, I am more mindful of what can happen, no matter what your skills or comfort level...That's my lesson learned...
10-01-2003, 08:34 PM
Lesson that I learned, never, ever, dive with a buddy who may be unqualified. I dove with a family friend on a dive cruise (Aquacat) out of Nassau. He had been certified by another friend (not a mutual one) for some decent chunk o $, and had not learned to watch his depth (found out after dive)! Had to drop to 155 fsw on a wall, to grab his fins. His computer read just over 160 fsw. Not that anything bad came of it, we took a nice little safety stop, but it coulda gotten ugly quick. Lesson learned!
10-01-2003, 10:58 PM
I always remember that when things get out of control, do what you learned in your course, or I may never get laid again.....
3 Shots 1 Kill
10-02-2003, 07:15 PM
I decided to not bring my snorkel on a dive trip and found out it was a big mistake. I finished my dive and upon ascent I saw the anchor line but the current was pulling me away from it so I decided not to work to hard chasing it. This had been my 6th or 7th dive that day so I wanted to take it easy and not fin hard to pursue it. I did my 3 min. safety stop and came up to see the boat was a long ways away( I can't really say how far). The seas were choppy and probably 1-2 ft. The waves crashed over my head so I did not remove my reg. I surfaced with about 500 psi in a lp 120 and thinking it would get me to the boat I decided to put my head in the water and swim but the current was so strong that I used all of my air upon reaching a rope tied to the tender. Although I had a choice to fully inflate my BC and just drift til all the others divers were aboard, I think a better choice would to have taken my snorkel for this dive and swim more comfortably to the boat.
10-02-2003, 11:18 PM
As a setup this was a club dive back in the days when I got sucked into being president of 2 dive clubs at the same time. This was a “combined clubs” rent a beach house and dive all weekend trip. We were Diving out of Gulf Shores. I believe we were off the Thunderball with Bert as Capitan. The dive was a late afternoon/ evening dive on the Wallace or Allen, and then we went over to a ledge for the night dive, assuming most could not get lost on a single ledge. For the divers who know the area the ledge is the one Fred Givens had dumped his VIP or hydro “failed” scuba bottles on. As a combined trip we had folks form both clubs that were not real familiar with each other and considerable mixing went on as the holiday weekend progressed. We had dives planned morning, afternoon each day and a night dive for Sat. The boat stayed full with various diver blends. Some (ME!) did all trips, some picked and choused to limit gas loading. One dive buddy pair that fell out of this mix for the evening/night trip was a reasonably skilled diver who is also a pretty serious diabetic and “THE KID”. Dick is good enough I’ll happily dive with him when he feels conditions are suitable for him to dive. His window is a bit narrower than mine due to his blood sugar issues, and he was still learning how to “see” at the time so hunting with him was a challenge.
“THE KID” was maybe 17, AOW PADI certified, and talked a world of experience. This was the first club trip he had been on. His jacket covered with course patches should have warned me!
After a really nice dive on the liberty ship Dick announced he wasn’t feeling up to a second dive. Sea conditions on the first dive had been 2-3’ about 10 second period seas out of the west. Visibility was about 30’ with about a ¾ knot surface current. Not bad for the area but pushing the known limits for Dick. This left the kid with no buddy for the night dive, and everyone else was paired up. Matt and I were the only two planning to fish that dive, and the kid wanted to try out his pole spear, so we got him by default. We explained to him that he was diving with us, Matt leading, and to stay close.
Matt and I only had about thousand hours in the water together as a buddy team at the time. We pretty well knew what the other would do, and can speak “regulator” with no difficulty. We also had been diving off GS several times a month for several years with both Fred and Bert to the point we were on a first name basis with most of the barnacles on the wrecks and reefs in the area. We divvied up the meat hauling duties, with the game between us being for the first one to speak up to offer to carry the implement (bag or stringer) that would be the least weight or drag coming up. Needless to say with Mother Ocean having a sense of humor this did not always work out as planned. Being a night dive on a ledge we figured for shovelnose so when Matt chose to carry the stringer I got the “heavy” bag for the second dive.
Conditions improved during our picnic dinner on deck. Seas went to 2-4”, surface current dropped off to nothing, to the point we pulled in considerable slack on the mooring to keep it from getting tangled in the props. We dropped about an hour after dark, with our team as the first in. Several others sat the dive out, and 2 other teams followed us in. Matt and I found the anchor on the up side of the ledge. When we got down we could just see the outline of one of Fred Given’s bottles we knew was just a few feet off the ledge, so we headed to it. Between the anchor and the ledge we covered maybe 50’. The other teams headed out in different directions and never found the ledge. In that 50’ we picked up a couple dozen flounder. Most were between 18” and “doormat” size. We spent about 500 psi making it to the ledge. Then we turned right and had the same flounder density all the way to the end of the ledge, say another 80’. Just off the end of the ledge was a really nice gag. He was nice enough to catch my spear shaft for me so the cable didn’t yank on my arm when the cable ran out. During this entire time the kid is off in the middle distance (~30’ or less with his light visible but not close enough to hail) chasing the sheepshead. He never even saw a flounder!
I was down to about 600 psi in my 72 with Matt down to about 1200psi in his 3K 96 steel when the kid showed up waving his light like a wild man. We checked his air and he still had over 500 psi in his Al 80. We assumed he wanted to go back to the boat, the stringer was FULL, and the bend-o-matic was over halfway to the red, so it made sense to turn the dive. Matt and I started to swim directly to the to the anchor that is about 90’ away so the kid will have an up line reference. The kid didn’t move, but went wild with the light again. At that point we realized the kid had zero idea where he was in relation to the hook, but wanted to go straight up and NOW.
No sweat, Matt and I dumped air in our BCs and started swimming up, with Matt hanging onto one side of the kid and me on the other. We swam up a few seconds when the water got cloudy. This is a bit unusual so we stopped for a second and hit the bottom. Like dummies, we had 60 or so pounds of flounder on the stringer, plus a fair sized gag. Time to put a bit of air in the BCs and we start up again, but this time the kid has eyes the size of saucers and no air in his tank. How he breathed 500 psi (~ 13 cubic feet) in less than 2 minutes I’ll never know. My octo is fouled in the bag, so Matt offers him his. The kid inhaled it from about 2 feet out. It is now obvious we have a problem so we head up smartly angling slightly toward the boat. We surfaced maybe 30’ in front of the bow to a clear breezeless sky and FAC. I grabbed the guns and fish while Matt dealt with the air lamprey on his tank. In the distance from the bottom to the stern deck the kid sucked over 700psi out of Matt’s tank.
Once on deck the kid lay there hyperventilating, calling on all deities, and whimpering for about 5 minutes. At NO time was he in any real danger from anything except himself and his ignorance. It turned out he had 10 night dives and about 60 dives total logged. ALL of it was in Vortex and Morrison springs during classes! This was his first trip into salt water and he didn’t say anything about it! Dick passed on the night dive so he wouldn’t have to dive with the kid again.
1. Keep better rein on third wheels when they can't be avoided.
2. Check for clear octo hoses at all times. We never did find a bug so the bag had stayed stowed with the octo clipped off under it.
3. Do NOT assume your pickup buddy has anything like reasonable air consumption.
4. Do not trust PADI certification level to indicate relative level of diving skill.
5. Buoyancy calculations have to include fish dead weight.
6. Full blown panicked divers are SCARY! It’s much better to get your head screwed on tight before you get in the water, and keep it there until you get back on the boat. I never want to see the saucers again. Even body snatching in black was a better experience.
7. The instructor who gave the kid the “rule” that you HAD to be back on the boat with 500 psi or you’d DIE needs to be horse whipped. That piece of misinformation caused his panic. BTW I know who the instructor was. His shop went bankrupt shortly afterward and he no longer teaches.
8. Get even with Dick for not warning us if it’s the last thing we do!:rolleyes:
10-04-2003, 10:53 PM
I dropped to 15ft before realizing I had geared up with an empty tank. My buddy was below me another ten so I decided to just ascend back to the surface and he followed. After getting back on the shore I started going over my steps preparing for the dive to see why I had missed checking my pressure.
This dive was planned to go to the bottom of a local lake here in Oklahoma with very cold thermoclines. My buddy and I had brought our 7mm semidries for the dive and were putting them on in 100 degreee temps on the shore. There were a lot of new divers as this was the certification hotspot for many dive shops around. All were asking questions about our gear and plans which we were gladly answering. I remember turning on my computer to check the pressure of the tank while at the same time I was distracted by a question, I must have forgot to look at the readout. I never looked at it again as I remembered checking it, then jumped in and started my decent. It was a little hard to breath so I adjusted my reg, still hard to breath so I switched to my safe second and looked at my guages which was beeping at me with zero psi. I still feel like an idiot putting on an empty tank but I rember the incident and I never let anybody disturb me while making my critical checks. After getting home that evening I downloaded my info. The dive started with 300PSI and I surfaced with 30PSI. My guage (Suunto Cobra) always read zero so I guess it has a small safety margin programed in.
10-09-2003, 08:29 PM
the WORST thing to do is panic.......I must admit, when i was just coming out of open water class, i encountered a weight belt problem, and made a rapid ascent. This is not a good thing.........learned my lesson though, and havent had any problems underwater turn into anything since.
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